(Adds number of Jana users, final paragraph)
March 19 Mobile marketing startup Jana launched
on Wednesday a new way for advertisers to reach consumers in
emerging countries through mobile phones.
Through Jana's Marketplace, brands like consumer package
goods company Unilever, Google and Microsoft
can reach out to people via their phones and entice them to
watch a video, discover an app or try a new service in exchange
for mobile air time.
The Boston-based company receives a fee for facilitating a
relationship between a brand and an individual who has expressed
interest in the brand or the category.
It works with more than 200 mobile operators in emerging
markets - with a focus on India, Indonesia, Vietnam and the
Philippines - to compensate people with free air time.
Jana CEO and co-founder Nathan Eagle believes one of the
reasons mobile advertising has yet to take off in emerging
markets is because many people buy pre-paid air time and are
reluctant to use it on just anything.
"The major issue in doing anything in this market is that
people are paying for every byte they consume and that is the
reason they are hesitant to do anything," said Eagle.
In the case of Unilever, it used Jana's Marketplace
to reach middle-class mothers to promote the benefits of hand
washing. The target customer logged onto Jana's platform,
watched a short video and took a five question survey. She was
then reimbursed for the air time and if she shared the survey,
she received additional air time.
More than 10 million people have registered with Jana, which
was founded in 2009 and has raised $25 million. Its board
members include Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy,
Spark Capital founder Todd Dagres, investor Esther Dyson and
former News Corp executive Jon Miller.
(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Chizu
Nomiyama and David Gregorio)